As you may know if you follow baseball closely, and especially if you’re a big fantasy baseball player, the website Baseball Prospectus has an elaborate system for forecasting upcoming baseball seasons player stats which they call PECOTA. I’m not sure how much time they spend working out the HBP category of these projections, but at least they spend enough time to project HBPs. For 2010 they predict Chase Utley will lead the major leagues with 27 HBPs, matching his career high from 2008.
They also project Carlos Quentin to be the 2nd most plunked player in the majors, which is certainly not a stretch of the imagination, and that he’ll be hit 20 times in 2010 – also matching his career high from 2008. Kevin Youkilis, however, is projected to be the third most plunked player, and just to prove that they’re not just calculating these numbers based on players career highs, or 2008 totals, Youk is projected to get hit 17 times this year, which will break his career high of 16 set last season. That would give Youk the Red Sox franchise record – he needs 13 to tie Mo Vaugh for the team reacord at 71. Behind Youk on the PECOTA 2010 projected plunk standing, is the exciting return of Ricky Weeks to the world of getting hit by pitches. After just 3 HBPs last year, due to injury, BP predicts Weeks will be back up to 15 HBPs this year – which would certainly be nice to see.
Also notable among their projections is Jason Kendall, who got hit 17 times last year, and is chasing history as he attempts to climb to the top rungs of the all time HBP list. They only think Kendall will get hit 9 times this season, which is not the kind of total he needs to keep up the pressure on Hughie Jenning’s total of 287 career plunks.
Unfortunately, PECOTA does not appear to include hit batters for pitching statistics, which seems like a major oversight. It’s clear that this process can be improved upon by focusing it specifically on HBPs, and I hope to make efforts in that direction in the upcoming weeks. Or years.